Posts

Showing posts from July, 2010

A Scattering, Christopher Reid

Christopher Reid, A Scattering, Arete Books

Christopher Reid is no stranger to literary accolades. His first poetry collection, Arcadia, won the 1980 Somerset Maugham Award and the Hawthornden Prize. Last year he also won the coveted Costa Prize for his poignant collection, A Scattering, written as a tribute to the memory of his late wife, Lucinda Gane, who died in October 2005.

A Scattering consists of four poetic sequences, the first during her final illness, and the other three in intervals following her death. The first sequence, entitled The Flowers of Crete, shows the poet seeking to process, or simply even escaping, what is going on, as he writes:

Please pardon the crimes/of your husband, the poet/as he mazes the pages/of his notebook, in pursuit/of some safe way out.

Yet whilst there may be the odd moments of escape he delicately and honestly weaves the facts of his wife’s treatment in this sequence, with melancholic diversions by way of a well-placed objective correlative, in thi…

Indie's 50 best summer reads

Whenever I see 'best summer reads' I automatically think airport paperbacks. But The Independent's list is a varied and interesting selection.

Desert Island Discs

Yesterday a good friend (are there 'bad' friends?), Jimmy Mulville, told me that he is about to appear on Radio 4's long-running show, Desert Island Discs. He then went through the tracks he chose - all great, classic (only one classical). He chose one that I would have to include in my 'fantasy Desert Island Discs'. Here would be my list, chosen not because they're all my faves, but because of the people and periods in my life that have been/are the most poignant:

The Fairytale of New York - Pogues ft. Kirsty McColl - reminds me of my parents marriage

Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise - it was playing everywhere the year I came to London and it reminds me of where I came from

Ane Brun - Lullaby for Grown-ups

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill - the song we chose to play at my Da's funeral

Feargal Sharkey - A Good Heart - one of my Mum's favourite songs

Sibelius - Violin Concerto in D Minor - just love it

Moloko - Bring it back - reminds me of my Momo days

Peter Gabri…

Tell, don't show?

I wrote this piece for the Beautiful Books blog:

The regular ‘Short Cuts’ section in the current issue of the London Review of Books is somewhat curious. Penned by Thomas Jones, contributing editor and regular LRB blogger, it amounts to little more than a scathing review of recent first novel, Anthill, by E.O. Wilson. The ‘novel’, and yes, it is in single quotation marks in the title of the online edition, first fails for Jones because the cover proudly proclaims Wilson as Pultizer winner. Close to being a case of false advertising, Jones claims, for Wilson’s two Pulitzers are for works of non-fiction. It is a good point – when do accolades have the ‘right’ to be on covers when they are covering different forms/genres? But then we come to the story and the old fail-safe accusation of the contmporary critic is rolled-out – that the main reason Wilson’s novel falls down is because of its ’thudding amateurishness of the story-telling’. This, he says, is because the author ‘appears to subs…

LM Network

Now that we are under a Con-Dem government, my radar seems to be picking up, (but then there really is increased media focus) on the different degrees of left. George Monbiot, the environmentalist writer, claims that those group of individuals making up the LM (Living Marxist) Group/Network, such as Claire Fox, Brendan O'Neill, James Woodhuysen (with whom I share a publisher), Frank Furedi, Mick Huhne, and others, are guilty of the Trotsky tactic of 'entryism'. They have, he said, infiltrated senior policy making positions and are all media regulars (well, not as in ITV regular, more like Radio 4 regular!) and, far from being on the left (they all come from the Revolutionary Communist Party RCP), it is all just a front for right wing ideologies. I'm not sure. I can see how they are all for questioning/interrogating policy decisions and a culture that they claim is in a constant panic about morality/safety etc, but perhaps it's all just a ploy to influence decisions…

Literary mags

Great feature in The Independent on literary magazines...

Review for Tribune - The Relentless Revolution

Review of The Relentless Revolution - A History of Capitalism, by Joyce Appleby

Ever since credit and crunch became the most quoted words of a generation copies of Marx & Engels The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital have flown off the shelves.

The constant re-issue of these books as the market demands prove yet again that capitalism subsumes everything eventually, even anti-capitalist manifestoes.

Yet there has also been a significant renewal of interest in the works on and of capitalist writer Ayn Rand, particularly the novel she is most known for, Atlas Shrugged.

Joyce Appleby, a notable American historian, therefore provides a timely tome with her latest, The Relentless Revolution – A History of Capitalism.

Whilst Appleby covers a broad canvas, one of her driving questions asks just how deep are the roots of capitalism? We discover that they are as deep as England’s own soil, and it is on England that she rests her focus for ‘only in England’ did an entirely new system for prod…

Tribune Review

My latest review for Tribune, on Ralph Turner's new book on Eleanor of Aquitaine.

New blog from Beautiful Books

Publisher of A Clockwork Apple, Beautiful Books, has launched all manner of interactive lovelies, including a blog. I have just posted my first urging caution when it comes to benefactors, following Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's call for rich donors to plug the gap in arts funding. Please read and add your own comments.